Upon separation, divorce or dissolution of civil partnership there may be a claim or issue relating to maintenance. This is particularly the case if there are children although not necessarily so. Grant Stephens Family Law has expert maintenance solicitors who can help with the following areas:
- Periodical Payments provisions or ‘Spousal Maintenance’ – When one party earns less than their spouse there may be a claim for periodical payments over and above child maintenance (or on its own if there are no children) which can either be during the parties’ joint lives or for a defined period. This can either be paid ‘periodically’ usually each month or paid in one lump sum upon settlement of the financial aspect of the divorce or civil partnership dissolution if a clean break is more desirable. There is no prescribed formula for calculating entitlement which is why so many lawyers get it wrong so it is extremely important to ensure that you get the best advice and representation from an expert solicitor in this field.
- Changing Maintenance Orders or ‘Variation’- When couples have divorced or their Civil Partnership has been dissolved and there is sometimes provision within the final financial agreement (or ‘Financial Order’) that one party pays the other maintenance or ‘periodical payments’, if something has happened which has affected maintenance entitlement or if the paying party’s ability to pay has been affected an application to the Court will be necessary to ‘vary’ or ‘dismiss’ the maintenance order. Usually it is the one who pays the maintenance who applies for a ‘downward variation’ or ‘dismissal’ of the maintenance order and it is usually the one who receives the maintenance who applies for an ‘upward variation’. The reasons for changing the payments are usually related to a change in income or a difference in outgoings. Again there is no prescribed formula for calculating entitlement which is why so many solicitors get it wrong so it is extremely important to ensure that you get the best advice and representation.
- Help with the CSA – All children have an automatic right to be maintained by a ‘non-resident’ parent (i.e. the one who the children do not live with). The Child Support Agency or CSA (now known as the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Division (CMED)) have jurisdiction with regards to child maintenance and use a prescribed formula to calculate the liability. They can however often get it wrong leading to considerable overpayment or a bill for an extortionate amount. Further, it is often said that the CSA can be difficult to deal with leaving clients confused and in need of support. We have extensive experience of assisting ‘non-resident’ parents in dealing with the CSA from negotiating down alleged sums owed, dealing with enforcement hearings for a ‘liability order’, and quashing ‘liability orders’ on the basis of wrongful calculations.
- Top – up child maintenance payments – Children may be entitled to maintenance over and above Child Support Agency rate for special requirements such as education or where the non-resident parent’s gross income is more than £100,000.00 per annum. Unless this can be agreed, it will be necessary to make a Court application to ‘top-up’ to the CSA calculation.
As there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach to maintenance which is something of a ‘feel area’. It is vital that you have realistic advice and the best representation from solicitors who have a wealth of experience in this area. At Grant Stephens Family Law you will be allocated an experienced solicitor who will support you all of the way and will work tirelessly to get you the best outcome to enable you to rebuild your life.